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Words have consequences. Look for proof positive no further than Boston, where last week two brothers assaulted a homeless Latino man sleeping near a subway station.
The brothers terrorized the man with a metal pipe, breaking his nose and leaving him with serious bruising across his ribs. They finished their brutal assault in an act of humiliation, by urinating on the man’s face. Police responding to the scene say they found him “laying on the ground, shaking, his face…soaking wet.”
As for the brothers, witnesses say the two intoxicated men were spotted “walking away laughing.”
When arrested and questioned, the brothers — who already have lengthy criminal records between them — laid blame for the assault squarely at the feet of Donald Trump:
“Police said Scott Leader, 38, told them it was OK to assault the man because he was Hispanic and homeless.
“‘Donald Trump was right, all these illegals need to be deported,’” he allegedly told the police.”
Trump attempted to distance himself from the assault, but not before telling reporters that his followers are simply “passionate.”
It’s that “passion” that is driving fear into the hearts of millions of Latinos and immigrants across the nation. As NCLR’s Janet Murguía writes in a new op-ed, “a summer of disparagement and demonization has put a target squarely on the backs of all 55 million Hispanics in this country.”
In her piece, Murguía calls out Republican leaders for not only failing to condemn Trump’s toxic rhetoric, but actually rushing to mimic his nativism by embracing his proposal to end birthright citizenship, among other things. It’s an important must-read, and a wake-up call for the Republican Party as rhetoric from their leading Presidential candidate takes a dangerous turn:
It has been a dreadful week on the issue of immigration. On Monday, Donald Trump released his long-awaited immigration “plan” which put his bigotry and hateful rhetoric into policy. His agenda of mass deportation, a massive wall, and the end of birthright citizenship hits many of the hallmarks of bad policy-making: completely impractical, prohibitively expensive, widely unpopular, doomed to fail, and deeply inconsistent with our values as a nation.
Yet once again–with a few exceptions, like Marco Rubio–the other Republican presidential candidates rushed to embrace Trump’s latest salvo: the proposed evisceration of the 14th amendment. Even Jeb Bush, who does not support ending birthright citizenship, echoed Trump’s use of the heinous and despicable term, “anchor babies.” Calling millions of U.S. citizens a term universally viewed as offensive by the Latino community does not bode well for Republican electoral prospects.
And the most disturbing incident of the week was the horrific beating of a Latino homeless man in Boston, who was innocently sleeping near a train station. The two brothers charged in the crime told police that their attack was motivated by their agreement with Donald Trump that “illegals have to go.”
Much of the responsibility for this attack lies at the feet of not only Trump, but of a Republican Party whose leadership has so far refused to publicly and unequivocally denounce Trump and his extreme rhetoric. Words have consequences, and hateful words lead to hateful actions. No one–especially not two intoxicated bullies–can tell a person’s immigration status by looking at them. This senseless attack was predicated on how this person looked. In other words, a summer of disparagement and demonization has put a target squarely on the backs of all 55 million Hispanics in this country.
When the election rolls around next November, there is no question in my mind that we will look back at this week as a turning point in the election. It will be known as the week when Trump’s dominance of both the campaign and the direction of the Republican Party on the immigration issue turned a dark and dangerous turn. It will be remembered as the week that Republicans not only started to lose the Latino vote, but also the election.
Republicans can only turn this around if the Party finds both its courage and its voice to say “enough is enough” to the demagoguery and bigotry of Trump and his ilk, and to the unconscionable demonization of an entire community that has now put millions of people in harm’s way. If not, Trump will succeed in getting his massive wall. It won’t be a wall between the U.S. and Mexico, but a permanent wall between the Republican Party and Latino voters.